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Mexico Is the Best Country in the World for Expats to Make Friends

pier of the Chapala
Credits: Jose Luis | Adobe Stock images

Mexico is the best country in the world for expats to make friends, ranking #1 in a just released study of the best and worst countries for making friends abroad.

InterNations, an online community of over two million expats, surveyed 18,000 of its members to determine which countries are expat-friendly and finds that Mexico comes out on top again in 2018 for the second year in a row. The country has ranked in the top three worldwide on this measure since 2014.

Globally, just 57 percent of expats say it is easy to make friends in their adopted country, but in Mexico 82 percent make friends easily and 77 percent say making local friends is effortless. By contrast, just 45 percent of expats worldwide find it easy to make local friends.

The ease of forming friendships in Mexico, the study says, has a lot to do with the country’s friendly attitude towards expats. Nine-out-of-10 expats in Mexico rate this as a major reason why it is easy to make friends.

Expats in Mexico also are the happiest of all expats globally, with 92 percent saying they are happy with their life in general, versus just 76 percent for all expats around the world.

The ease of making friends in Mexico is just one finding from the InterNations annual global study: The Expat Insider Survey.

Overall, global expats rank Mexico #4 out of 68 countries as the best place to live, down from #3 in 2017. Reflecting Mexico’s appeal to retirees, the average age of the expats in Mexico who participated in the study is nearly 55, compared with the global average of just over 44-years-old.

Mexico also ranks in the top tier of countries for ease of settling-in and cost-of-living. Ranking #2 for ease of settling in, Mexico shines in the friendliness and finding friends measures, both tops for all countries in the study. Mexico also ranks #2 for expats feeling at home in the country and ranks #2 worldwide for expat cost of living, which is important to the nearly 40 percent of expat respondents in Mexico who say they are retired.

Mexico also scores well on the quality of life measure that is valued so highly by expats in Mexico. It moves up two rankings in 2018 from the previous year’s study. At the #22 spot for overall quality of life, Mexico leads all countries on the personal happiness measure and comes in at #2 for leisure options and #22 for health and well-being. The country, however, still has work to do in several categories: #27 travel and transport, #26 digital life and #57 out of 68 countries on safety and security.

Finally, the study looks at working abroad and Mexico is in the top 20 countries on three of the most important measures: #21 overall for expat workers, #9 for career prospects and satisfaction and #18 for work and leisure, a strong measure of work/life balance.

The study headlines its Mexico section as “La Vida Perfecta: Mexico and the Happiest Expats in the World.” Over 1.2 million expats in Mexico could not agree more.


  1. Hi Robert,
    I wonder if the #57 for Safety & Security is really the PERCEPTION of safety. You know me, I have lived in an area that constantly gets “bad press” which serves to create the perception of danger, when in fact I have never experienced danger nor have I witnessed nor have my friends in any way that could be said to be out of the range of normal anywhere in the world. SIGH

    • Hola, Victoria and thanks for the comment. As you know perceptions drive the discussion, not the reality. Violence in the country is still mainly the result of cartels battling for territory and, of course, sometimes people get caught in the crossfire. That can happen anywhere (Chicago, for example). Although, broadly speaking, the violence is mainly along the U.S. border and certain states like Guerrero (except for Zihuatanejo), Colima (except for Manzanillo) and your home state of Michoacán. But as you correctly point out, even within states that have a long history of violence like Michoacán, it is most often confined to specific areas, leaving bucolic places like Patzcuaro untouched. See you soon!

  2. A friend of my sister’s, a Canadian citizen spending half the year in Merida where she owned a gallery, had the same perception as you and felt very safe. Unfortunately, on the bus ride from the airport to Merida she was the last person remaining. Her battered body was found, and her photography equipment missing. Later the bus driver was charged in her murder. Isolated incident perhaps but women travelling alone need to be aware that they are vulnerable. Not sure what she could have done differently.

      • Murders to steal someone’s photo equipment does not typically happen anywhere… unfortunately Mexico is more dangerous than some other countries. It is the reality of living in poverty and resorting to alternate ways to get buy and feed yourself and your family. However, it’s not SO dangerous that people shouldn’t go there, most people are good people and would never do something like that. Most people are very friendly and welcoming. However people should take extra precautions to stay safe because the reality is that it is needed, especially for women… Although I also can’t really see what could have been done differently in this situation.

        • Again, this can and does, unfortunately, happen in cities in the U.S. and other countries, which can be the result of poverty, drug addiction or other reasons such as mental illness. And, like living in any large city or heavily traveled tourist center, tourists, expats and local people need to be aware of the risk of crime.


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